The Awakened

Funnily enough, a Phadria, Lloyd fanfic. Got the idea from the song "Only hope" (I'm kinda addicted to it and that's very strange as my taste generally runs to more darker rougher music) this was the verse that gave me the idea "I am awake in the infinite cold…" as it goes, it kinda fits this story. It's something of a sequel to "Enlightened" and is set a few years after the events of that story, so I put it in the "Before the Angels Came" Archive.

"Most holy, I thank you for allowing me to see yet another dawn. By this sight before me is my faith reconfirmed. Light banished the dark, and the sun purges the night of all it's fell beasts and the smothering folds of shadow that they are spawn. Amen."

Such a strange prayer, the first verse was one of gratitude, the second and third almost war like… It was a disjointed and clumsy thing, but it was the Morning Prayer, and she must utter it upon sacred stones every morning.

Such was her duty as a priestess of the Goddess.

She stood, her duty done she could leave. She could now leave this temple that had all been but abandoned when its priest had been forced from his post. She grieved; perhaps most of the town did after Tylor's exile. But the mayor -Goddess give her patience with the man!- had a point. A man who dared defy the Desians and defend an outcaste child -priest or no- would only bring the wraith of the Desians down upon the heads of Iselia.

Such a man could not be around, should not even be alive, but Tylor was both alive and around and the cleanest way would be to remedy the latter.

So what the mayor had ordered the church had to support.

Phadria looked upon the empty temple and sighed, then stood, her joints popping and creaking. While alarming she was used to it –and as she understood it about the whole process of aging she'd best get used to it, it wasn't going to get better anytime soon! She managed a thin smile; the trials of the Goddess were many. When the body failed the soul must accept its flawed vessels limitations, so went the writ of Martel.

If only she could blindly follow, could blindly believe, but that rebellious priest had left something of his taint upon her. His questions, his defiance, his example… She'd seen a man torn, a man twisting to unnatural patterns by his love of duty and love itself. His love of the church, his love of the children, it had nearly ripped him in half, had nearly broken his heart. Wild with pain, he could have turned on them both.

In all regards he should have, no mortal after all could stand the Trials, only the Chosen could stand the Trials.

Yet Tylor had stood his own trials, and while not Devine they were as hard as those the Angels thrust upon their Vessel.

On the surface, to those who didn't know him, he had left with nary a murmur of protest.

She wondered -as she made her way past the pews that were being claimed by mold and mildew, being consumed by the dust- if any recalled the tears in those emerald eyes. She wondered, as she always did, at those final words Tylor had murmured into the sobbing Lloyd's ear. She wondered, and did not know.

And that was one of the last marks Tylor's presence had set upon her. He'd shaken her enough that Martel was no longer the answer to everything. There were mortal things, Devine, and something beyond both that dealt with a force that the Church of the Cruxis was never supposed to acknowledge.

Life.

"Better a poor priest then an empty one." She whispered to herself.

She cautiously made her way down the three steps of the chapel. Her walking staff once little more then a cosmetic, an accessory, now was needed to aid her steps.

Another sign of encroaching age, another whisper of coming death. The Goddess would come for her someday soon. She was, as a good priestess, supposed to quietly accept that and willingly fade away.

So went the writ of Martel.

"Hey, Phadria!"

The priestess turned, saw Lloyd and managed a smile. The boy was a heretic, and as a heretic he avoided the Sunrise Ceremony, the Dawns Prayer, and stayed in the sanctuary of his nice warm bed every chance he could get. He waved, seeing that she had spotted him, and did so again in an unorthodox manner.

Both hands wildly flapping over his head, he hopped up and down, and Phadria chuckled despite herself.

Unorthodox was something of an understatement when one strives to describe Lloyd Irving, hyper, playful; those terms also fell wildly short.

Student took after his mentor, and both had been bent on giving her more grey hairs then she had started with. And they were succeeding, remarkably well, unless you were supposed to be half grey by the time you made it to sixty years of life. He charged down the street, gracelessly avoiding Clark and his heard of sheep by jumping onto a water barrel, jumping off the top of the barrel –nearly slipping on the convex edges and getting an impromptu bath in the process- and clearing the lead sheep and haggard sheep herding dog in one bound. Cursing, Clark waved an upraised fist at the dwarf's son, but Lloyd only turned to shrug and then went on his way.

"Hey!" He slowed his dash to a mere trot seeing that Phadria wasn't going to bolt like some of the other people he'd approached at a run. "Phadria, I found you! Dad said you aren't supposed to be late so I thought I'd come by early and make sure you got thought all your priest stuff nice and fast so you could be by in time for Dad's big dinner, autumn feast thingie!"

Raising an eyebrow Phadria cocked her head to indicate the just rising sun.

"Aren't you a little early, Lloyd?"

"Well…" Lloyd squirmed, then in the face of her logic countered with illogic. "We need to get Colette and Frank, and the Professor, and Genis, and you all are everywhere in this stupid town! I have to run everywhere to find everyone and that takes a lot of time!"

"Truly?" Phadria chuckled and Lloyd fell in step besides her as she left the temple.

"Unhuh, and Ivan's of course going to do everything to slow me down." The brown haired boy's face grew thoughtful. "Eriks not much better." Lloyd confided. "But he's fat, so he's slower, so he's not that bad."

"Well." Phadria wound an arm around Lloyd's shoulder, steadied him with a touch as she had once steadied Tylor with her words. Together they left the broken... no breaking temple behind. "Let's go find them, so it doesn't "take forever" and you don't have to run from Ivan and Eric."